CLAS­SIC CUL­TURE

Joanna Booth ex­plores the en­rich­ing side of a hol­i­day to Greece

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - THE CUT - springrestau­rant.co.uk/ta­ble

High above Athens, with a roof sup­ported

on slen­der col­umns, there is an airy mon­u­ment that looks out to sea. How­ever, this one is more than four times the size of the Parthenon and 2,500 years younger.

The Light­house/read­ing room, at the top of the Stavros Niar­chos Foun­da­tion Cul­tural Cen­tre (snfcc.org), pic­tured above, is a mon­u­men­tal new space built to house the Na­tional Li­brary of Greece and the Greek Na­tional Opera. This con­crete-and-glass build­ing, de­signed by ar­chi­tect Renzo Pi­ano, is the fo­cus of a for­mer park­ing lot turned ur­ban green space, pep­pered with olive, al­mond, fig and pome­gran­ate trees.

ART AND CRAFTS

Greece may be most fa­mous for its an­cient his­tory, but this is a coun­try where cre­ativ­ity has never stopped flour­ish­ing. Am­ple proof is on show at the Na­tional Mu­seum of Con­tem­po­rary Art (EMST), be­low left. An­other new­comer to the Athens ex­hi­bi­tion scene, the EMST (emst.gr) has opened in the for­mer Fix brew­ery, where visi­tors can see mod­ern Greek art, from paint­ings and sculp­tures to com­plete in­stal­la­tions.

SIL­VER AND ARBOREAL SKILLS

New mu­se­ums are also pre­sent­ing Greece’s an­cient her­itage in in­ven­tive and ex­cit­ing ways. The Pi­raeus Bank Group Cul­tural Foun­da­tion has a net­work of themed mu­se­ums dot­ted across the coun­try and two new open­ings shed light on tra­di­tional Greek crafts.

In Ioan­nina, within the city’s an­cient cas­tle, the Sil­ver­smithing Mu­seum (piop.gr/en), pic­tured right, show­cases the cen­turies of skill in the Epirus re­gion, with the glis­ten­ing ex­hibits ex­plained with in­no­va­tive au­dio-vis­ual and mul­ti­me­dia tech­niques.

On the is­land of Chios, the Mas­tic Mu­seum (piop.gr/en) brings to life the time-hon­oured meth­ods of cul­ti­vat­ing this tree. Its gum is used in medicine, in­dus­try and food – as visi­tors can taste in the café, with a cup of mas­tic-flavoured cof­fee.

Roughly chop the cima di rapa stalks. Cook them for about a minute in salted boil­ing water, drain, and set aside to cool.

In a large saucepan, melt the but­ter and stir in the flour. Cook for 3-4 min­utes, stir­ring con­stantly, un­til light golden but no darker.

Add a splash of the milk and whisk un­til it is fully in­cor­po­rated, be­com­ing smooth and lump-free. Carry on with this process, slowly, un­til all the milk has been added.

Cook this down for about 20 min­utes, whisk­ing con­stantly on a low heat, un­til you get a very thick and smooth con­sis­tency. You might need to add a lit­tle more milk if you get to the right con­sis­tency too quickly, to make sure the flour gets cooked.

Re­move from the heat, add the cooked cima di rapa stalks and sea­son to taste with salt and the parme­san. Trans­fer to a large bak­ing tray and cool com­pletely in the fridge, un­til it’s no longer sticky when touched.

Crum­ble the left­over cheese scraps into small pieces all over the cream, and shape it into small cro­quettes about the size of eggs, mak­ing sure each gets a lit­tle bit of cheese.

Coat each cro­quette in a lit­tle flour, then the egg, then bread­crumbs. Leave to cool.

Deep-fry in vegetable oil (at least 180-190C), in batches if nec­es­sary. De­li­cious with any greens. what Gyn­gell calls ‘a grace­ful and eco­nomic way of c o ok i ng ’. Where a n unloved bit of lamb shank may have been dest i ned for t he dog ’s di nner, Gyn­gell hopes to show that, ‘if braised for a while it can be de­li­cious and make a whole new sup­per’.

Scratch will be at t he hear t of t he chef ’s new project which launches this Wed­nes­day. Ta­ble, a ‘demo­cratic eat­ing house’, will run for the five days of Photo Lon­don, the in­ter­na­tional pho­tog­ra­phy fair tak­ing place at Som­er­set House. Here, farm­ers will meet din­ers, vol­un­teers will wait tables, and seats bought with ‘sol­i­dar­ity tick­ets’ will be of fered to t hose who wouldn’t nor­mally be able to af­ford it. ‘It’s an idea I’ve har­boured for about 15 years,’ Gyn­gell ex­plains, ‘that food can be a power- ful creator of com­mu­nity.’ With Dayles­ford’s Ca­role Bam­ford as pa­tron, it has come to fruition, with a menu star­ring Scot­ter ’s overg rown veg, along wit h su r plu s but ter mil k f rom L a F ro­magerie in Maryle­bone, cheese of­f­cuts from Ber­mond­sey’s Mons Cheese­mon­gers, and Toast Ale, brewed with bread of­f­cuts other wise headed for the bin, among many other pro­duc­ers.

Ta­ble cel­e­brates Spr ing a nd Fer n Ver row’s ‘beaut if ul yet chal­leng ing ’ re­la­tion­ship and opens the con­ver­sa­tion up to oth­ers. ‘Chefs are cry­ing out for the chance to work di­rectly wit h farm­ers, and we are lucky to have found some­one like Skye who can sup­por t us,’ says Scot­ter. ‘And af ter all, there’s noth­ing like the thrill of be­ing thrifty.’

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